What should Joe Paterno have done? More than just the minimum required.
Whitehead, who played for six NBA teams during his 11-year career, was found dead in a San Diego suburb late December 2012. He was 56. The 6-foot-10 forward/center was taken 41st overall by the San Diego Clippers in the 1978 draft and was the starting center on Marquette’s 1977 NCAA title team. An autopsy revealed that Whitehead died as a result of gastrointestinal hemorrhage caused by alcohol abuse.
Cherundolo, a former center for the Pittsburgh Steelers who went on to help coach the team, died of heart failure in Florida on Dec. 22 at the age of 96. Cherundolo played for the Steelers in the 1940s and was named to the franchise's legends team, representing the best players through 1970.
Ryan Freel, 36, who played eight years in the major leagues from 2001 to 2009, took his own life on Dec. 22, 2012. Primarily an outfielder, Freel spent most of his career with the Reds. Three times he stole more than 35 bases in a season. After retiring, he coached youth ballplayers around his native Jacksonville, Fla., area through an organization called Big League Development.
The nine-time winner on the LPGA Tour died on Dec. 11 after a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 56. She is pictured here after the biggest win of her career, the 1997 du Maurier Classic — her lone major.
The Cowboys' practice squad player was killed on Dec. 8, 2012 when a car that teammate Josh Brent was driving crashed. Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter in the incident.
Majerus, who led Utah to the 1998 NCAA final and had only one losing season in 25 years with four schools, died of heart failure on Dec. 1 at age 64. In November, Majerus announced he wouldn't return to coach Saint Louis because of a heart condition that dated back to 1989. Majerus amassed a career record of 517-216, with 15 20-win seasons and two 30-win seasons, coaching for Marquette, Ball State, Utah and Saint Louis.
According to police, the 25-year-old Chiefs linebacker murdered his girlfriend and mother of their infant child at home, then drove to the team facility and committed suicide on Dec. 1, 2012.
Miller, the man who created the MLB players’ union, who helped usher in the era of free agency, and who turned baseball players into mega-millionaires, died on Nov. 27 at the age of 95, only three months after being diagnosed with liver cancer. His 16 years at the helm of the Major League Players Association were so transcendent, former MLB commissioner Faye Vincent called Miller (seen here in 1972), ‘the most important baseball figure of the last 50 years.’ While few argue Miller’s importance to the game, one debate that will rage on beyond Miller’s life: Whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Hector Camacho, 50, was gravely wounded Nov. 20, 2012, in a shooting outside a San Juan, Puerto Rico, bar. He remained unconscious until his death on Nov. 24 when his family removed him from life support. Camacho was 79-6-3 in a career that saw him earn super lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight world titles in the 1980s. Some of his high-profile fights were against Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Lee MacPhail, enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1998, followed the footsteps of his father, Larry, as a baseball executive in a 45-year career. As director of player personnel for the Yankees, MacPhail built one of the game's strongest farm systems. During his tenure in New York, the Yankees won seven World Championships in 10 years. MacPhail also worked as general manager of the Orioles before rejoining the Yankees. He served as AL president from 1974-83. He was 95 at the time of his death.
William Wayne Jones III
The Tennessee State freshman DB collapsed during practice on Nov. 7 and died at a hospital later in the day. He was a walk-on from Smyrna, Tenn.
Darrell Royal, who coached the University of Texas football team to national championships in 1963 and '69, died Nov. 7 at age 88. He battled Alzheimer's disease for several years. Royal never had a losing season in 23 seasons as a head coach. He also served as Texas' athletic director from 1962-79. The university renamed its stadium Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium in 1996.
The former All-Star pitcher suffered a fatal stab wound to his neck during an apparent home invasion robbery at his residence in Haina, Dominican Republic. He was 55. Perez pitched 11 seasons in the major leagues with the Pirates, Braves, Expos and Yankees. He went 67-68 with a 3.44 ERA. He was an All-Star with the Braves in 1983, a season that saw him go 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA.
The Austrian World Cup skier died in a car crash on Oct. 26, 2012. He was just 23 years old. Sieber won two medals at the world junior championships, a silver in giant slalom in 2009 and bronze in super-G in 2008. His best World Cup result was seventh at a super-combined event in February 2011 in Bansko, Bulgaria.
Steward was a fighter, a trainer and a boxing pioneer. Growing up in Detroit, he won the national Golden Gloves tournament, but he is most known as a trainer for champions and as the owner of the legendary Kronk Gym. He trained fighters such as Thomas Hearns, Evander Holyfield and Oscar De La Hoya. He died on Oct. 25, 2012. He was 68.
Margaret Osborne duPont
DuPont, shown in 1950 at Wimbledon, died late Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the age of 94 in El Paso, Texas. DuPont, who reached the No. 1 ranking, won more than 30 Grand Slam singles and doubles titles spanning three decades. The American tennis legend won six Grand Slam singles titles: Wimbledon in 1947, the US National Championship (now the US Open) singles title from 1948 to 1950 and the French singles title in 1946 and 1948.
Legendary college football personality Beano Cook died Oct. 11 at the age of 81. A diabetic, Cook maintained a comprehensive knowledge of the game and was an icon among the college football set.
Blatnick won gold for the United States in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1984 Summer Olympics. As tough as it is to win gold, Blatnick did it after winning a battle against cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma. Blatnick went on to serve as a commentator on many UFC fights. He died on Oct. 24, 2012, in New York at the age of 55.
The seven-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion died after a sudden illness at the age of 86 on Oct. 18. Martin stood 5-feet-10 but played much larger, averaging 9.8 points and 4.2 assists over a career that included four championships with the Minneapolis Lakers (1950, '52-'54) and one more with the St. Louis Hawks (1958). In 1949, he set a Texas Longhorns record with 49 points in his penultimate collegiate game.
Karras' claim to fame came on the gridiron, but also as an actor. Karras played his entire NFL career with the Detroit Lions from 1959-62 and 1964-70 and was known as one of the toughest defensive tackles. Many will remember him as the lovable father from the 1980s sitcom ''Webster'' or as the big cowboy who punched out a horse in ''Blazing Saddles.'' He died on Oct. 10 after suffering kidney failure. He was 77.
The longtime Detroit Red Wings PA announcer passed away on Oct. 9 at the age of 95. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985 and was the team's broadcaster before becoming the announcer at Joe Louis Arena.
Steve Sabol was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in March 2011 and died just 18 months later on Sept. 18 at the age of 69. As a co-founder and the president of NFL Films, Steve Sabol’s writing, editing, directing and producing talent made him one of the pioneers of the industry. Sabol’s NFL Films came up with the idea to wire coaches and players for sound and use slow motion.
Watkins, the former Formula One medical chief credited with saving the lives of several race drivers and introducing major safety improvements in the series, died Sept. 12 at the age of 84. Watkins — aka "The Prof" — was at the forefront of F1 safety for 26 years and served as medical delegate from 1978 to 2004.
Tweeted driver Rubens Barrichello: "It was Sid Watkins that saved my life in Imola 94. great guy to be with, always happy...tks for everything u have done for us drivers. RIP."
Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell died on Sept. 6, shortly after being admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He is shown here celebrating the Ravens title in Super Bowl XXXV, just a few years after moving his team there from Cleveland.
Economaki, widely known as the dean of American motorsports journalism, died in September at the age of 91. He worked in television for more than 30 years before taking over the National Speed Sport News. He was part of the first NASCAR telecast from Daytona International Speedway in 1961 and went on to work for several other networks covering NASCAR races. The Trackside Conference Room at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center was renamed the Economaki Press Conference Room in 2006 in his honor and he is a member of multiple halls of fame.
Steve Van Buren
The Hall of Fame running back who led the Philadelphia Eagles to NFL titles in 1948 and 1949, died on Aug. 23, 2012 of pneumonia at the age of 91. Van Buren starred at LSU and earned the nickname 'Wham-Bam' for his bruising, yet speedy style. In the NFL, Van Buren led the league in rushing four times and finished his eight-year career with 5,860 rushing yards and 77 TDs. He was the first Eagles player to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and still holds team records for rushing yards in a single game (205) and most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (eight).
Red Sox great Johnny Pesky, shown at the 100th anniversary celebration of Fenway Park on April 20, died on Aug. 13 at the age of 92. Pesky was so much a part of Boston baseball that the right-field foul pole at Fenway was named for him. He played second base, managed and served as a broadcaster for the Red Sox in a baseball career that lasted more than 60 years.
Carr played nine NFL seasons with the Chicago Cardinals, Eagles and Washington Redskins. He was the starting left cornerback on the 1960 title team and had 13 of his 15 career interceptions with the Eagles. He was 79.
The two-time US Olympian died on July 27, 2012 in a plane crash in Sedona, Ariz. Porter, a 10,000-meter Olympian and 13-time distance runner national champion, was piloting the twin-engine Cessna when it crashed and burst into flames on takeoff.
Reed, the former Indiana basketball player who coach Bob Knight was caught on tape choking in 1997, died on July 26, 2012, after collapsing in his Central California home. He was 36. Reed became infamous in 2000 when he accused Knight of choking him and when a tape surfaced of the incident, the coach was put on a zero-tolerance policy by the school. Reed transferred to Southern Mississippi shortly after the incident and played there in the 1998-99 season. After college Reed worked at Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria, Calif. coaching football, basketball, golf and teaching physical education.
Carlen (far bottom left), seen here celebrating his West Virginia Mountaineers' Peach Bowl Classic win on Dec. 31, 1969, died on July 22 at the age of 79. In 16 seasons, Carlen etched a 107-69-6 record with only three losing seasons and eight bowl appearances. Among his accolades are coaching South Carolina's only Heisman winner (George Rogers, 1980) and winning Southwest Conference Coach of the Year twice while at Texas Tech. He is also credited with elevating the West Virginia program to the national stage and helping persuade school administrators to break from the Southern Conference and take the program independent.
The former lineman who played eight seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Seattle Seahawks, died in July at the young age of 52. Feasel was a standout at Abilene Christian before going pro in 1983 when he was drafted in the sixth round by the Baltimore Ravens.
Heitz (22), shown in a March 15, 1969, file photo, was a member of three NCAA basketball championship teams at UCLA. He died July 9 after a long battle with cancer.
Heitz joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor), Lucius Allen and Lynn Shackelford on the 1965-66 freshman team that defeated the two-time defending national champion varsity in the first game played in Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins finished with an 88-2 record during Heitz's career and became the first school to win three consecutive titles.
Sauer, the captain of the Stanford Cardinal team that advanced to the 1998 Final Four, died July 8 at the age of 35. According to Stanford coaches, they were told that Sauer was shooting free throws after an adult rec league game in New York when he collapsed and hit his head. EMTs tried for 20 minutes to revive him, and he was later pronounced dead at a hospital. During that Final Four run, Sauer is best-remembered for returning from a knee injury to knock down a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the Cardinal's 86-85 overtime loss to Kentucky in the NCAA semifinals. Sauer finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot in 22 minutes of that game.
A boxing legend who defeated some of the greatest fighters during the 1940s and 1950s, Bivins died at 92 on July 4, 2012, of complications from pneumonia. Bivins retired from boxing in 1955 after more than 100 professional fights and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999. He was awarded the unprecedented ranking of No. 1 contender in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions in 1942. He finished with a record of 86-25-1 (31 KO).
This undated photo taken circa 1950-53 shows Doris Sams, a leading player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, during her playing days with the Kalamazoo Lassies. Sams, a fast-pitch player from Knoxville, Tenn., who helped inspire the movie "A League of Their Own," died June 28 at the age of 85. Sams was a five-time All-Star during her eight-year pro career, according to the league's website.
Spanish defender Miki Roque started his pro career with the Liverpool youth club and played in one Champions League match for the Reds. He found a First Division home in his native country, joining Real Betis in La Liga. Roque was diagnosed with cancer in March 2011 when he had surgery to remove a tumor from his hip. He died June 24 at age 23.
Darrel Akerfelds pitched 125 major league games from 1986-91 with the Oakland A's, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies. He also was a football linebacker at the University of Arkansas and earned letters in 1980 and '81. After serving as a pitching coach in the San Diego Padres organization, he joined the major league staff in 2001 as the bullpen coach, a role he held until his death June 24 from pancreatic cancer. He was 50 years old. Diagnosed in December 2010, he managed to miss only 14 games the following season while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Teofilo Stevenson was a three-time Olympic heavyweight champion and one of Cuba's most famous athletes. He took home gold in 1972 (Munich), 1976 (Montreal) and 1980 (Moscow), making him only the second amateur boxer to win three golds. Stevenson, who earlier in 2012 called his Olympics triumphs "the greatest memories" of his life, died on June 11 of a heart attack.
Ladarious Phillips and Edward Christian
Former Auburn football players Ladarious Phillips (left) and Edward Christian were fatally shot during a pool party near the school's campus on June 9, 2012. ''We have a lot of people on our football team that are hurting right now and we're going to do everything we can to help them get through this," head coach Gene Chizik said following the tragedy.
The former Cincinnati reliever pitched 10 years for the Reds and helped the team win back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976. He still holds the team record for most career appearances with 531. He also pitched for the Angels, Giants and Cardinals. He lost his battle with cancer on June 4, 2012. He was 65.
Woolridge played 13 seasons in the NBA and had a reputation as a rugged forward who was one of the first alley-oop specialists. The sixth overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 1981 NBA Draft was a product of Norte Dame. He played for the Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Denver, Milwaukee and Detroit, and even coached the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA. Woolridge, who had a chronic heart condition, passed away on May 31, 2012. He was 52.
Twyman was one of the NBA's top scorers in the 1950s but he may be known more for what he did off of the court. In 1958, after teammate Maurice Stokes was left paralyzed after a head injury suffered during a game, Twyman became his guardian to help Stokes receive medical benefits. In his hoops career, Twyman played for the University of Cincinnati and spent 11 seasons in the NBA with the Rochester and Cincinnati Royals. He averaged a career-high 31.2 points per game in the 1959-60 season, playing in six All-Star games. He scored 15,840 points in his career and was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983. Twyman died on May 30, 2012 of complications from an aggressive form of blood cancer.
The Arena Football League fullback for the San Jose SaberCats was only 26 when he died on May 28, 2012. Kirton played in college for the University of Washington and was a team captain in 2008.
Bob Boozer won Olympic gold in 1960 and played 11 years in the NBA, winning one title as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. The No. 1 pick in the 1959 NBA Draft was a two-time All-American at Kansas State. He died on May 19, 2012 at the age of 75 from a brain aneurysm.
The former West Virginia football coach took over the program in 2007 when Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan. Stewart went 28-12 in three seasons at WVU. His most notable win came in the Fiesta Bowl, right after Rodriguez left the program. It was Stewart, a deeply religious family man, who stepped in and guided the team to a surprising 48-28 victory over the Sooners. By the summer of 2011 Stewart had resigned from the position at the school. He died of a heart attack on May 21, 2012. He was 59.
Johnny Tapia died on May 27 at his home in Albuquerque, NM. The world-champion boxer rose to prominence despite a turbulent and troubled childhood. An autopsy concluded that complications from heart disease and high blood pressure led to the boxer’s demise at the age of 45.
Fuller (far left) was best known for a race his horse ultimately didn't win. On May 4, 1968, Dancer's Image, ridden by Bob Ussery, won the Kentucky Derby. But days later, the horse was disqualified for having a banned medication in his system. The decision was quite controversial, particularly in light of Fuller's support of the civil-rights movement. Fuller died of cancer on May 14 at a skilled-care facility in Portsmouth, NH, at the age of 89.
Boston Red Sox public address announcer Carl Beane — the voice of Fenway Park — whose booming baritone called ballplayers to the plate for two World Series champions, died on May 9 after suffering a heart attack while driving. He was 59.
Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker, died May 2, 2012 at his home of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He was 43. Seau, who spent 19 seasons playing for the Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots, made headlines in October 2010 when he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and drove his car off a cliff after he was released from jail. Seau suffered minor injuries and explained that he fell asleep at the wheel and the accident wasn’t a suicide attempt.
Shelby was known for his Ford V8-Powered Shelby Cobra roadsters. Creator of the Cobra Daytona Coupes, with bodies designed by a Peter Brock, he led the team won the World Manufacturer’s Championship in 1965. Success continued with a pair of 24 Hours of Le Mans titles with his teams. He had also won the title as a driver in 1959, and according to SPEED was believed to have been the only person to win Le Mans as a driver, as a manufacturer and as a team owner. He also created the Carroll Shelby Foundation to aid children with life-threatening illnesses and fund transplants of hearts and other organs. He died in May.
Alexander Dale Oen
Norwegian Olympic swimmer Alexander Dale Oen died Monday, April 30, 2012 after finishing a training session with teammates in Arizona, Norway's swimming federation said. A silver-medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 100m breaststroke, Dale Oen was on track for another medal in London.
Thomas 'Amarillo Slim' Preston
''Amarillo Slim'' was a pro poker player who fancied himself the ''World's Greatest Gambler.'' Preston won the 1972 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1992. He also wrote or co-wrote several books about the game and himself. He lost his battle with colon cancer on April 29, 2012. He was 83.
Bill "Moose" Skowron
Former Yankee Moose Skowron died April 27 of congestive heart failure at age 81. He was a five-time World Series champion and one of only two players to hit three home runs in Game 7s. Skowron helped the New York Yankees win four titles in the 1950s and 1960s and was an eight-time All-Star. He frequently attended Yankees old-timer events.
Eusebio Razo Jr.
Longtime jockey Eusebio "Eddie" Razo Jr., shown in a 2008 photo at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., was killed in a garage fire April 24 at his Chicago-area home, according to reports. Razo, 46, rode 2,692 winners in his career, according to the Daily Racing Form. Prominent on the Illinois circuit and at Oaklawn Park, Razo won several meet riding titles.
Easterling, a former Atlanta Falcons defensive back who was among a group of players suing the NFL over head injuries, committed suicide on April 19, 2012. Easterling died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Richmond, Va. He was 62. A member of the Falcons' famed “Grits Blitz” defense of the 1970s, he led the defensive secondary that established a team record for interceptions (26) in 1977. That same season, the Falcons set an NFL record for the fewest points allowed in a season (129 points).
The inventor of ski goggles changed the sport for the better with his invention in the 1960s. An orthodontist, Smith used his knowledge of dental tools to create the double-layered goggle that is standard for today's pro athletes and, of course, amateurs alike. He died on April 18 at the age of 78 after complications from heart surgery.
Saul, shown in a 1981 photo, died April 15 at the age of 64 after a long battle against leukemia. Saul was a six-time Pro Bowl center who played on the only Los Angeles Rams team to reach the Super Bowl. The Rams' eighth-round draft pick out of Michigan State in 1970, Saul finished his career with 105 consecutive starts. He was a favorite of Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo, who took his snaps in the Super Bowl XIV loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Schintzius, shown in a 1991 photo, died April 15 from respiratory failure at the age of 43. A 7-foot-2 center, Schintzius led the University of Florida to its first three NCAA tournament appearances. He remains the only SEC player with more than 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 250 blocked shots. He was selected 24th overall in the 1990 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. He went on to have stints with the Kings, Nets, Pacers, Clippers and Celtics in nine seasons in the NBA.
Emile 'Butch' Bouchard
The former Montreal Canadiens defenseman captained the historic franchise for eight seasons, winning four Stanley Cups, before retiring after the 1955-56 season. Bouchard was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 and his No. 3 was retired by the team in 2009. The man who was known as a hard-nosed D-man and a fierce hitter died on April 14. He was 92.
Italian soccer player Piermario Morosini suffered a heart attack on the pitch and died on April 14, 2012. Morosini fell to the ground in the 31st minute of a game and tried unsuccessfully to get up before receiving urgent medical attention on the field. Morosini was just 25 years old.
At 43, the two-time Olympic medalist in diving met an untimely death April 9, 2012 while being treated for an unknown illness. Lenzi won a gold medal in the 3-meter springboard event in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and bronze in the same event in Atlanta in 1996.
Kiel, shown in this 1988 photo while a member of the Green Bay Packers, died April 8 at the age of 50. Kiel starred for Notre Dame as a quarterback and punter from 1980-83, setting the record for the longest pass in Irish history with a 96-yarder to Joe Howard against Georgia Tech in 1981. In the NFL, Kiel made three starts and appeared in 25 games in five seasons with the Buccaneers, Colts and Packers from 1984 to 1991.
Michael Peterson, an Australian considered the best surfer in the world before such titles were bestowed, died March 29 after suffering a heart attack. He was 59. Peterson was virtually unbeatable in the early 1970s, and the 1972 movie "Morning of the Earth" contained an iconic moment of him performing a high-speed cutback.
Boxing writer and historian Bert Sugar, who was as colorful a character as any fighter he chronicled, died March 25 of cardiac arrest. He was 75. Known for his fedora and cigar, Sugar was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005 and wrote more than 80 books, including ''The 100 Greatest Boxers Of All Time.''
Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Mel Parnell died March 20 at age 89 after a long fight with cancer. In a 10-year major league career spent entirely with the Red Sox, Parnell compiled a 123-75 record and 3.50 ERA. He is the winningest left-hander in Red Sox history and the fourth-best overall.
Nik Zoricic was a freestyle skier with the the Canadian National Ski Cross team, who died from head injuries after flying off the course and crashing in a World Cup skicross event on March 11. Zoricic, who was 29 when he died, was born in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, but moved to Canada when he was five years old. He competed in alpine ski racing before switching to skicross in 2008.
Major League umpire Harry Wendelstedt died March 9 after an extended illness. He was 73. Wendelstedt called seven NL championship series and four All-Star games, and he was behind the plate for five no-hitters. He was on the major league umpiring staff from 1966-98. In 1998, Wendelstedt (left) posed for this photo with his son, Hunter Wendelstedt, also an umpire, before a game.
Don Mincher was a two-time All-Star first baseman who played for the 1972 World Series champion Oakland Athletics. He also had stints with the Minnesota Twins, California Angels, Texas Rangers, Seattle Pilots and Washington Senator during his 13-year career in the major leagues. Mincher was 73 when he died on March 6 after a long illness.
Alex Webster was a star player for the New York Giants from 1955-64 and then returned to coach the team from 1969-73. The running back, who spent his entire playing career with the Giants, won the 1956 NFL championship game with the team. He died on March 3 at the age of 80.
Nicknamed ''Kid,'' Carter played nearly two decades (1974-92) with the New York Mets, Montreal Expos, San Francisco Giants and the LA Dodgers. He was the first player to go into the Hall of Fame with an Expos cap on his plaque. An 11-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove award winner, Carter was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003. He is remembered for igniting the Mets' stunning 10th-inning rally in their classic comeback win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Carter was 57 when he died on Feb. 16 after battling brain cancer.
The former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver was one of the franchise’s most beloved players during the team’s run of championship excellence in the 1980s. Solomon, who played 11 NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins and the 49ers from 1975-85, won two Super Bowls while with the 49ers and is best remembered for being the targeted player for quarterback Joe Montana during the famous “Montana-to-Clark” catch in the 1982 playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Solomon lost his nine-month battle with colon and liver cancer on Feb. 13, 2012. He was 59.
Not many people could scream at Sugar Ray Leonard and get away with it. But Angelo Dundee more than earned that right — and Leonard's respect. Arguably the most famous trainer in boxing history, Dundee trained 15 world champions, including the likes of Leonard, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Upon his retirement, Dundee became one of the sport's greatest ambassadors, being inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994. Dundee died on Feb. 1 at the age of 90.
Former college basketball coach Charlie Spoonhour had a 373-202 record in college basketball, including eight NCAA tournament appearances. He spent 19 seasons coaching at Missouri State, Saint Louis and UNLV. Spoonhour died on Feb. 1 at the age of 72 after fighting a long battle with a lung illness. He had also received a lung transplant in 2010.
For more than half of his life, Joe Paterno was the head coach of Penn State's football team. And over that 46-season career, JoePa set a major college football record with 409 victories, including two national championships. He guided the Nittany Lions to 37 bowls and sent more than 250 players to the NFL. His career came to an abrupt end in November 2011 as the program was embroiled in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal. Shortly after, it was revealed he was battling lung cancer. On Jan. 22, Paterno died at the age of 85.
After founding Pocono Raceway in the early 1960s, Joseph Mattioli spent four decades building the track into one of the premier destinations on the NASCAR circuit. With the help of his wife Rose, Mattioli oversaw the track for 68 Sprint Cup races. The couple retired last year but, in handing over control to their eldest three grandchildren, maintained Pocono as the lone remaining family-owned-and-run track on the Sprint Cup schedule. Also a dentist, 'Doc' died on Jan. 26 after a lengthy illness. He was 86.
Jeffrey Ntuka, 26, made five appearances with the South Africa national team and was a member of Chelsea's reserve team for six months in 2003. Ntuka also played two years with South Africa's Kaizer Chiefs beginning in 2009. After battling alcohol addiction, Ntuka's contract with Supersport United expired, leaving him teamless. Ntuka was stabbed to death in Jan. 21 inside a Kroonstad, South Africa nightclub.
Sarah Burke, 29, was a Canadian freestyle skier who won four gold medals at the X Games in the Superpipe event. She was also the first woman to land a 1080 in competition, making three complete revolutions before landing. After lobbying to legitimize freestyle skiing for several years, Burke's efforts paid off when the sport was added to the 2014 Winter Olympics roster. Burke was seriously injured in January 2012 in a training accident in Park City, Utah, and succumbed to her injuries nine days later.
Michael Current, a 66-year-old former NFL lineman, was found dead in an Oregon wildlife refuge on Jan. 16 from an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound. He reportedly was expected on the same day to enter a plea on five charges of first-degree sexual abuse on a minor, according to court records. Current played 13 NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins and wrote a 2002 memoir of his time in the league.
Jim Stanley served as the head football coach at Oklahoma State from 1973 to 1978 and most notably served as the Director of Player Personnel for the Arizona Cardinals organization for 12 years, starting in 1995. He also spent two years coaching the USFL's Michigan Panthers, winning the league's championship in 1983. Stanley died on Jan. 12 after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 77.
Ron Caron, who was 82 when he died on Jan.9, spent a long career in the front office of NHL franchises, most notably serving as the GM for the St. Louis Blues from 1983 to 1993. During his time there, Caron's Blues included future Hall of Famers Doug Gilmour, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis and Grant Fuhr. He was also a six-time Stanley Cup winner as an assistant general manager with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s. Caron, was nicknamed the "Old Professor" for how well he could remember hockey facts. ''He remembered when he met you, when you scored your first goal, and he could do that for everybody,'' former St. Louis player Bernie Federko remembered. ''It was just amazing.''
Don Carter, the bowling great with the unorthodox style, died on Jan. 5 at age 85. Prior to his death, he had been hospitalized with pneumonia complicated by emphysema. Carter, known as “Mr. Bowling,” was the game’s original superstar. He was a leading force in the formation of the PBA in 1958 and became a charter member of the PBA Hall of Fame in 1975. He was also the first athlete in American sports to sign a $1 million marketing endorsement contract, with bowling ball manufacturer Ebonite in 1964.
Gene Bartow, who died Jan. 3 at the age of 81 after battling stomach cancer, won 647 games in 34 seasons and was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. Bartow took UCLA and Memphis State to the Final Four and launched UAB athletics. He also led the Blazers to seven straight NCAA tournament appearances while coaching at the school from 1978-96.